Spring has sprung and many people head for the outdoors. Why wouldn't you? Going outdoors lowers stress levels and can have a positive impact on your overall health and moods. Unless you travel to sunnier destinations in the winter, your vitamin D levels drop during the winter as sunlight is limited in many parts of the world. Take advantage of the springtime and know that your vitamin D levels will increase and improve your body's ability for strong bone and cell growth. Enjoy the magic of Mother Nature watching the plants waking up, the birds singing in the trees and building nests for their future families, and the smell of the fresh air.
Gardening is a top priority for many and is also how many people injure their bodies.
Research shows that 30 minutes of gardening gives general health benefits similar to going for a brisk walk. Gardening tasks require bending your joints and stretching your muscles - preserving flexibility. Lifting and repetitive tasks around your garden and yard build strength and endurance but can also create injury if you don't prepare your body for the work ahead.
When warming up the body before exercise, dynamic stretching is the type of movement that will get your body ready; you want to mimic the moves you will be doing whilst gardening. Performing all the movements for a minimum of 5 minutes will increase blood flow to areas that are going to be working and reduce the chance of injury.
1. Tilt head slowly side to side, bringing ears toward shoulders 5 times
2. Gently nod head up and down 5 times
SHOULDERS AND BACK
1. Bring hands together in front of the chest. Breathe in; bring hands apart as you press elbows back behind you, squeezing shoulder blades together 5 times
2. Place your hands firmly on your lower back and gently bend backward; release back to standing tall. Repeat 5-8 times
3. Gently rotate/twist side to side warming up the muscles of the waist. Repeat 8-12 times
1. Take arms straight out in front and grab the right hand (by the wrist) with the left. Gently press the hand down towards the floor and then point the fingers upwards stretching the forearms. Repeat 5-8 times and then perform on the left hand.
1. Walk around the garden a few times planning your day and then gather all your tools.
2. Perform some easy squats, hinging from your hips and keeping your weight distributed evenly through the balls of your feet and heels. 10-20 times
The benefits from dynamic stretching include feeling more energized, improving the range of motion throughout your body, and not being tired before you even start. Be careful not to bounce or create jerking movements while stretching as this can send the wrong message to your nervous system and increase the chance of injury.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Be realistic! Your body is only ready to perform at the level of effort and endurance it is regularly used to
Take a break when you're tired and make sure you stay hydrated!
Spread heavy lifting and digging tasks over a week rather than a weekend
Take time to recover between projects
Rotate tasks. Avoid over-use injuries by performing different activities during the day
*Avoid pain and injury when you begin gardening by keeping your body in shape all year around. Do regular physical activity and stretching.
Yours in health